"Everything you want," he breathed into her ear, and Naminé shivered in response. "Is only a picture away."
One could attempt to describe Naminé's room, her chamber, her prison cell in Castle Oblivion, but mostly only a single syllable word was needed to adequately convey the appearance of said area.
Her room was pure, featureless white. She didn't even have any sketches tacked on the walls. They were all in her art book, and besides the small splashes of color brought by her pencils and crayons, there was nothing interesting to note.
Naminé sat alone at her ivory table, sandaled feel occasionally swinging on a whim, biting her lip as she worked. Her illustrations were gorgeous when it came to detail, but their intent was malicious. She was burrowing into Sora's heart and memories like a parasite and ripping out the one he truly cared for, just so she could have a friend.
It made her feel horrible, terrible, filthy, even. Dirty. Contaminated. Like she should have been brown or black or gray instead of a white witch.
But her loneliness overpowered her shame, and thus she worked.
It was very late in the night, and the best time to manipulate Sora's memories was when he was asleep. He was on some obscure floor of Castle Oblivion, dozing in a corner as he grabbed some quick Zs. Even Keybearer heroes needed to get rest. Donald and Goofy were snoring and snorting near him, their minds drifting to their far-away home, as Sora's dwelled on his friends.
Delicately, slowly, Naminé reached into the farthest corners of Sora's heart. She had to eliminate any sign of Kairi that might be left, lest Sora recall even the tiniest bit of her. She was his light in the darkness, after all, and all of her shadowy memories would be illuminated and revealed as lies the instant he remembered her.
This was impossible—Kairi would exist forever somewhere within him. But still, she worked.
So deep in her mental state was she that Naminé didn't notice she had crossed a sort of verge between Sora's heart and someone else's she had never contacted nor noticed before. They were melded together, and yet, they were not. There was a tiny ridge of oblivion between them, and from that ridge, something jumped out at her.
Sora's silver chain of memories vanished from view as shadow suddenly descended across Naminé's sight. She gasped, flinching in her chair, blinking rapidly to adjust to the sudden burst of white that was her room, compared to the endless gloom she had just been exposed to.
Naminé glanced everywhere, her nonexistent heart thundering, trying to fight back her total irrational fear. The girl's pale blue eyes blinked once, and when it became clear that nothing was there, she relaxed.
Maybe I need some rest, the witch thought with a sigh, smoothing her dress out with one hand and brushing her blonde hair back with the other.
"This is certainly a surprise."
She gasped and whirled around in her chair, standing up and retreating quickly into a corner until her back hit a wall. As she stared at the newcomer, Naminé thought of a dozen different things. Should she open a Dark Corridor—(how did she even do that?) Call the Organization? Scream?
Standing before her was a masked boy. His armor was black and red, twisting around his frame and seeming to be organic, like a second skin. His glossy black helmet nicely hid his face, and his muscled body reminded her of Riku, but the shape was wrong. He was closer to Roxas's size—her brother Nobody that she had never met—or…Sora's.
Naminé swallowed in fear, gasping out, "Who are you?"
The boy took a step towards her, halting when she pressed herself farther into the corner.
"Who do you think I am?"
His voice carried a mocking timbre that sounded oddly familiar.
"I-I don't know. I don't know you at all. You aren't from Sora's memories."
"What…do you want?"
"Does it really matter what I want? What do you want?" He picked up her art pad and turned it over in his gloved hands, tapping its surface with his fingers. Flipping it open, he studied the illustrations that lied within. "Someone's not playing nice."
"I…have to." Naminé murmured weakly.
"Have to what?"
She didn't know why she was telling him, but she was. "The Organization is making me enslave Sora."
"They're not making you. You're enslaving yourself."
Naminé breathed, "What?"
The boy dropped her book unceremoniously back on the table, striding towards her until they were only a foot apart. He leaned in close, and she saw her own terrified expression reflected perfectly back, due to his helmet.
"You're afraid and lonely and you're going to take what you want."
Her voice caught in her throat helplessly, and an overwhelming guilt swept through her. Who was this boy that knew so much about her?
She had the nasty feeling he was smirking.
"But so what?" He purred. "What's wrong with taking what you want? If you have the power, Naminé, then do what you please. You have the ability to even overthrow the Organization using Sora yourself…"
"H-How do you—"
"Know so much? That's my little secret. I wonder, will you be able to let Sora go, or will you keep him with you?"
Naminé wished someone would come in. She wished she would wake up. She wished this boy would go away. However, her mind was on two different tracks.
"What's your name?"
Whenever Axel or anyone else appeared, Vanitas was never there. Naminé's timid personality kept the Organization from wondering about her strange nervousness, since they only attributed it to her fear of them. But whenever she was alone, Vanitas would appear behind her, watching her draw.
He didn't say anything for two whole days, and she almost reached a point when she forgot he was there. But that was impossible, considering his presence was nearly tangible in the air.
At long last, he broke the silence as Naminé pulled another late night job. Sora had almost completely forgotten Kairi now, except for a vague nostalgia feeling whenever he thought of home.
"They call you a witch."
Naminé's pencil ceased its movements. "Yes."
"An unfitting title, I believe."
"It really isn't, Vanitas."
"That's just what they've gotten you to think."
She hated when he started talking like this, because it meant his voice would blur her senses and mind and nonexistent heart until she believed what he said.
"No, it's not what I think. I know that to be true." Naminé closed her eyes and tried to think of anything, anything at all, besides his purr of a voice sliding all around her, invisible but very real.
"Is that so?"
Vanitas extended his hand and something dropped onto her lap. The witch jumped in fright, ready to bolt, when she realized what the item was.
The yellow paopu charm she had created for Sora and the Replica of Riku.
"How did you get this? Whose is this?" Naminé picked it up and let her fingers brush its vaguely familiar surface.
"Tell me what it is."
"…A shadow of something real."
"It looks real enough to me." Vanitas observed dismissively. He coiled one of his arms around her throat so she couldn't turn her head away, murmuring into her ear, "So, little witch, what do you fear?"
You! Naminé thought frantically, but instead she spluttered something incoherent and attempted to flee. His arm tightened and she found herself struggling for air.
"No running now. Running solves nothing. What do you fear?"
"Why…do you care?" She instantly thought of Sora, wishing he was here to protect her. The Riku Replica, even, would be more than welcome.
"I was wondering what kind of Unversed your fear would create," stated the darkly clad warrior calmly, as if he had only asked the time instead of what made her heart tremble in horror.
"Un…versed?" Naminé repeated slowly, fingers rising to clasp his arm uselessly, as if she stood a chance at removing it from her throat.
"I find this rather odd, don't you?" Vanitas inquired pleasantly, running his hand through her blonde locks casually. She felt herself shiver, and naturally he noticed it. "Oh? You're not afraid of little old me, are you? I won't bite…much."
Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh great Kingdom Hearts!
"What are you?"
He stopped his movements and tilted her head to the side. Once more she was faced with her own reflection, bouncing off of his shiny black visor. "What am I? You don't think I'm human, or a Nobody?"
"That's not very nice," Vanitas replied with mock hurt. "You're as monstrous with your words as you are with your actions."
Naminé, with a shocking amount of strength that stunned even her, tugged herself free from his dark embrace and whirled around to glare at him, pale eyes vivid with anger. "No! I'm not a monster…I'm just not." Her words became quiet at the end, and she shook with fear as he walked towards her.
"Are you really?"
She took a step back.
"Consider this. You are making a slave out of someone that has never before harmed or even met you. You know his every thought, every feeling—his memories are yours to command. You call him here to 'rescue' you with the intent of creating a puppet friend, using his 'kind heart' to ease your own loneliness. Not only that, you erase his best friend and take her place without so much as a thought devoted to Kairi, leaving her to be forgotten, a void in the heart of Sora."
There was no where left to run, and backed into a corner again, she felt water leap to the corners of her eyes.
Tears. I'm crying, and I'm a Nobody! Why?
Because every word hit home, it was the truth, pure and undiluted. But how did he know so much?
Vanitas's hand flashed forward and closed around the front of her white dress. Her feet left the ground a little, and she cried out in pain as she was thrust against the wall. His helmeted face loomed closer as he murmured, "You're almost more 'monstrous' than me, willing to do anything to satisfy yourself. Small, white lies you implant in a heart can become an eclipsing tide of light that destroys everything in its path. You're selfish, in more ways than one…"
Her blood was roaring so loudly in her ears that Naminé could barely hear his next sentence.
"If I were human, you'd be just my type."
And she knew he was smiling.
Horror washed through her entire body, and unable to do anything else, Naminé placed both of her hands on his helmet and shouted, "No! Stop!"
Stop your truths, stop your twisted words, just…stop!
At first, nothing.
Then a gleaming flare of white radiance swept out from where her fingers had landed on his mask, enveloping them both and widening, spreading, covering everything within sight until her entire world burned ivory.
Naminé's eyes widened and her Arctic-blue pupils dilated to an almost impossible size. She wasn't used to being overwhelmed, for her mind was flexible if anything, but she was helpless against the surge of memories she was experiencing now.
A sunny world, of surf and sand—Destiny Islands?—the ocean was too imprecise to be sure, for it could be any world in the entire known multiverse. Two shadowy figures moved near the seashore, one shorter than the other.
An old man, bald and hunched with a searing orange gaze, was talking. His lips moved, his hands gestured, but Naminé could hear nothing. Beside him stood a boy, helmet tucked under his arm, not truly paying attention and thus not even his memories could preserve the speech his Master was giving.
Gold eyes stood out from a pallid face, black hair sticking out everywhere in an identical fashion to Sora. Lips were turned upward slightly as he imagined his own scenario involving the Keyblade Wars, not needing his Master to fashion one for him.
Something like static howled across her vision, ripping the first memory to shreds. Something else formed in its place.
An unconscious youth—Roxas?—was collapsed on the ground at his feet. The world spun wildly but Vanitas got his bearings quickly, and when the old man said his name was Vanitas, he simply dipped his head (for the time being) and replied with a respectful, "Yes, Master."
Naminé wasn't sure if she was screaming or not. She felt as if someone had set her on fire, and she struggled to keep her consciousness.
They were becoming fragmented now, the mental pictures.
"He won't be the Terra you—"
"But will you be able to?"
"He's not strong en—"
The words ran together and became a chaotic jumble that no one had a prayer of sorting out. An immense tide of crashing Darkness completely scoured her heart clean before being chased away by the depths of her own Light, but the glimpse she had been privy to was more than enough to set her heart racing wildly.
Naminé's fingers at last disconnected from his helmet, and she slouched to the ground, breathing hard, endeavoring not to release the painful tears welling up.
Vanitas gave a cry, stumbling back and lifting his head. His invisible, baleful stare rested on her with enough power to set her alight, but instead of attacking her, he just laughed. It started out as a low chuckle, but gradually it swarmed up his throat and exploded out of him like a dog barking, bordering insanity.
Her blood ran cold. She was never more afraid than when another laughed.
"Naminé, what a gift you have there! Did you like that little insight into my heart?"
"You're connected to that boy, the one that looks like Roxas!" Naminé choked out, still incapable of standing. Regardless, she clenched both of her hands and hissed, "And you're wrong. I'm not a monster. Maybe…" It's time to change, she finished silently.
Carefully, Vanitas reached up and unclasped something from the side of his helmet. He removed it with a flourish, dropping it to the ground. The black-haired, yellow-eyed face so similar to Sora blinked once at her before smirking nastily.
"A little late to grow a backbone."
Naminé got to her feet, placing one hand against the wall. "N-No it's not. It's never too late. You're not real. You're a figment of my imagination." He can't be here! His own memories say he died during a—
In a rush of shadow, he gripped both sides of her face and pressed his mouth to hers before she could stop him. She recoiled, of course, terrified because the action held no emotion to it, no true love. There wasn't even desire or heat, because Vanitas was cold and emotionless and inhuman—a true monster, the leader of the Unversed and their creator. A being of total shadow that had never known the Light.
"Was that just your imagination?"
Even when he pulled back, appearing victorious, Naminé vowed that she would have the last laugh. So she did the only thing she could.
Reaching out to Vanitas's black heart just like she did with Sora and would later do with the Riku Replica, Roxas, and Xion, Naminé concentrated a burst of her mental power and shattered something.
As Larxene would have put it, she broke him.
Of course, that would only work on Sora and those whose hearts were connected to him. Vanitas, via Ventus, was, and though he didn't end up as shattered as the Replica, it was a startling shock.
He gasped, falling backwards and crashing onto the table. His body trembled for a moment, then, unbelievably, he got back up. Vanitas tried to speak, he really did, but since he really was something that Naminé had found by accident, this entity of the dark Keybearer was something she could indeed dismiss.
He gave a smile that would haunt Naminé forever.
"Just…my…type." And with one final laugh he disappeared in a glimmer of black, silver, and deep purple.
Naminé sat down. She drew her legs to her chest and buried her head in her arms and didn't move again for a long time.
Watching Sora float, so serenely, in his pod, Naminé gave a soft grin and placed her hand on the semi-transparent casing. "Your heart is so complicated, Sora. You have no idea."
It would take all of her courage, meager as it was, to restore his memories. She feared nothing more than reencountering the shade of Vanitas, and she knew she'd never be able to look at Sora without seeing his golden eyes.
She trailed her fingers over her lips absently.
I'm frightened. I'm scared of myself for what I can do to others.
Naminé stiffened, but this voice was entirely new, faint but at the same time, reassuring. As if someone was calling to her from a great distance. Forgotten sunshine was embedded in his tone.
"You're not a bad person, Naminé. Now's your chance to prove it."
"Naminé, let us go." DiZ commanded as he passed her, and she nodded hurriedly, straining her ears for anything else from her mystery guest. But there was none.
Naminé lowered her head, eyes closed.
I'll show Vanitas, and the rest of the Organization. The depth of her new drive surprised her.
As they left, Naminé whispered aloud to herself, "Thanks for believing in me, Ventus."
Don't beat me down for this!
This is dedicated to AswaxSora! I hope you enjoyed it, and sorry for the wait. I'm satisfied with some parts of this, others, not so much. Being a fan of canon-style writing, I can't see this relationship going both ways.
Hmm…I'm dabbling in a lot of crack pairings, aren't I?
Ven's cameo at the end is not totally unwarranted if you know where he is after Birth by Sleep, and that last bit was set right at the conclusion of the Castle Oblivion arc.
Reviews are greatly appreciated, as always.